I’m not surprised that due to the wild success of BAD MOMS (2016) that it would spawn a sequel. What I am surprised about is that the sequel came out so soon. Usually, we would have to wait at least two years. But I guess this is the sort of movie that you can bang out in a couple of months and not struggle too hard to find a good release date around the holidays. Though I have to question why it’s being released closer to Halloween than in December. This movie isn’t even getting released close to Thanksgiving. I guess Christmas is getting booked hardcore by more prestigious movies, eh?
Summed up, I thought BAD MOMS was going to be a bust, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself. Certainly one of the better comedies of last year. While it was raunchy by its very nature, it did have a heart to it that I find to be pretty rare in these types of comedies. And if there’s anybody that stole the show for me, it was Kathryn Hahn, whom I now adore as an actress.
Now for this one. I won’t lie… it looks like a downgrade. A quick cash grab to milk the success from the first film. It looks pretty formulaic, like the story’s going to be about the moms trying to prepare for Christmas, but their everyday stresses get the better of them, and then they basically say, “Fuck it, let’s be bad moms again!” I don’t know, I don’t think this is going to have the same charm as the first film, but I hesitate to bash this after the previous one schooled the shit out of me. Here’s what I’m hoping for: Kristen Bell is given a better role, as I thought she primarily existed in the first film to round out the cast, and I kind of wouldn’t mind just seeing Kathryn Hahn and Susan Sarandon just running around getting in trouble together.
Here’s the cast. Returning questionable parents include Mila Kunis (BAD MOMS, AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL , SANTA WITH MUSCLES , and the upcoming THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME ), Kristen Bell (FANBOYS , TV shows THE GOOD PLACE [2016 – ongoing] and VERONICA MARS [2004 – 2007], and upcoming films THE DISASTER ARTIST  and RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 ), and Kathryn Hahn (CAPTAIN FANTASTIC , WANDERLUST , and THE LAST MIMZY ). Returning support includes Oona Laurence (THE BEGUILED , PETE’S DRAGON , and SOUTHPAW ), Emjay Anthony (INCARNATE , KRAMPUS , and CHEF ), Christina Applegate (BAD MOMS, FARCE OF THE PENGUINS , and MARS ATTACKS! ), and Jay Hernandez (SUICIDE SQUAD , HOSTEL: PART II , and THE ROOKIE ). Newcomers include Christine Baranski (MISS SLOANE , WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT , ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES , and the upcoming MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN ), Cheryl Hines (WILSON , A FAIRLY ODD MOVIE: GROW UP, TIMMY TURNER , and WAITRESS ), Susan Sarandon (MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA , ENCHANTED , and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH ), Justin Hartley (TV shows THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS [1973 – ongoing], REVENGE [2011 – 2015], and SMALLVILLE [2001 – 2011]), and Ariana Greenblatt (feature film debut; congrats, miss).
Now for the crew. Co-directing and co-writing, we have Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, both known for BAD MOMS and 21 & OVER (2013). Composing the score is Christopher Lennertz, known for BAYWATCH (2017), ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (2007), PIRANHA (1995), and upcoming film PITCH PERFECT 3 (2017) and TV reboot LOST IN SPACE (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Mitchell Amundsen, known for CHIPS (2017), RED DAWN (2012), TRANSFORMERS (2007), and the upcoming THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS (2018).
Overall, I’m hesitant to say this is going to be bad, but I said that about the last one and that bit me in the ass. So… I think I’m just going to shut up and see it.
This is my honest opinion of: A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS
Christmas is a stressful time of the year for moms, and Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) are no exceptions. Things only get more complicated when their mothers visit. Amy’s overly critical and judgmental mom Ruth (Christine Baranski), Kiki’s overly attached and obsessive mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines), and Carla’s overly distant and manipulative mom, Isis (Susan Sarandon), each going through their own personal problems of what it means to celebrate the holidays and how.
I should really put more faith in things. Oh yeah, I really like this movie. In my opinion, it’s just as good as the first one. No, it’s not better, as it is a repeat. But as repeats go, it’s still fun.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way. I know I’m in the minority that likes this movie and I think I can see where the criticisms come from. What really is the difference between this flick from the first one? In retrospect, not too much. The first film’s story was simple enough. An over-the-top scenario of a mother, Amy, who’s juggling one too many things, trying to be her definition of a perfect mom, being involved in this and that activity, having an impossible time saying no to anything only to eventually snap and forego being a good mom and become a “bad” mom with Kiki and Carla. By the end of the film, she learns to tone it down a little and give herself a break. In this film, it’s almost like the first film didn’t happen. When everyone’s moms show up, it’s right back to the same scenarios again: no one standing up for themselves. Even when the pivotal “let’s take Christmas back” scene happens, the women’s antics don’t feel very connected very well. In the previous film, their desecration of the local grocery store is a result of heavy drinking, having enough of their mundane routines and opting to do whatever they want without caring about judgment. But here, the intention is that these women want to celebrate Christmas how they want, with whom they want, without the input of their parents. So… wouldn’t the “desecration of the mall” scene be more effective if they were doing it in a way that offended their mothers? Or maybe not a desecration of the mall, but rather destroying the extravagant and expensive decor that Ruth puts up all over Amy’s house in the same fashion as desecrating the mall? There’s a way to make these scenes work, but it’s poorly utilized here and more like a callback for the sake of having a callback. The point is, the bad moms don’t learn their lesson until the end of the film, instead of the more sensible putting the lessons they learned into effect, clashing with their mothers who have strong wills than their daughters.
Also much like the original film, I don’t think it understands its own dilemma. In the first film, the bad moms think that being a “bad mom” means not being afraid to curse at the other mom who’s way too bitchy. I guess you could argue that “bad mom’s” meaning could be interpreted less like abusive and neglectful mothers, but rather just hardcore and no fucks given, so I don’t recall really taking issue with this notion. However, here, Amy makes it clear that she thinks she ruined Christmas and feels like a bad mom. Now I take issue. No, Amy is not a bad mom. Ruth showed up to her home unannounced and completely took over the holiday, showing zero respect toward her daughter, or her boyfriend. She had been an unbearable pain in the ass every step of the way and Amy it’s only when Ruth promised to take a step back and let Amy do things her way, only to lie and complete make-over her home without her consent, inviting dozens upon dozens of strangers over where she snaps and takes control, resulting in Ruth getting thrown out of the house. Of course Amy said things that she didn’t mean. Ruth backed her into that corner and Amy lashed out. I saw no problems here. I didn’t see how Christmas was ruined. Amy stood up for herself. Not in the best of ways, to be sure, but this was a scenario that could have happened to anyone. The kids being upset is a result of bad writing.
Having said all that, and as long winded as those complaint may be, they’re smaller issues by comparison to how much I was laughing throughout the film.
Unlike most comedies that I see, this movie does have a heart to it. Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) both don’t want a huge holiday celebration, but rather a low key one, something that Amy is trying her hardest to accommodate. For as unlikable as Ruth gets throughout the story, there is an adequate payoff in the end to explain her actions. Because of Kiki’s father having passed away, Sandy can’t let go of her daughter and wants to be a part of her life… obsessively… every second of the day, driving her daughter up the walls. And you can tell that while Isis probably was a neglectful mother and wasn’t very good at raising Carla, she clearly made enough of an impact for Carla to get excited for her appearance, even if she’s skeptical of the reasons why. Each story is showing you the way the mothers want to spend time with their daughters, but also showing how the daughters want to spend time with their mothers and each one is surprisingly heart-felt.
Kiki is a lot funnier this time around, though I still think she never truly develops as a mother. Seriously, is she ever going to crack down on her kids, or tell her husband to step in and be a father? Carla still fucking slays the shit out of me. Again, I don’t know what it is that Hahn is doing differently from Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson, but Hahn is fucking hilarious, constantly belting out the best jokes or physical humor, I’m still so in love with her performance here. And I feel like these women have a genuine comradery. They do have a legit connection between the three of them and they’re funny together. You can tell Kunis, Bell, and Hahn are having the time of their lives when they’re dicking around, and if you can the actors are having fun, it gets pretty infectious.
I have one more complaint, but it’s funny enough, not about the movie, but rather the future of this now franchise. The movie ends with Ruth, Sandy, and Isis heading out together to go to Las Vegas. Aside from the fact that I adored these women on screen together as well, I was thoroughly intrigued by the idea of a spin off film about them. But much to my disappointment, a spin off film is indeed in the works, but it’s going to be called “Bad Dads.” What?! You mean the characters that get the least amount of development in these movies, the least interesting characters are getting their own movie?! Actually, now that I typed that out, it probably makes more sense than I initially thought as their own movie would give an opportunity to flesh out their characters more, but… NO!!! I want to see a movie about Hines, Baranski, and Sarandon get into shenanigans! They were far more interesting characters and would hold up a film far better than the men would! Piss off with “Bad Dads” I wanna see “Bad…. Grandmas?” Okay, better title than that, but for the love of all that Hollywood holds sacred, please, make the movie that was teased at the end the spin off!
Overall, no, it doesn’t take the established characters in any new directions, it doesn’t do anything new with it’s previous formula, and even starts off trying a little too hard to be funny. It’s an obvious cash-grab trying to bank on the previous film’s success and popularity. But as cash-grabs go, this could have been a far worse film and far more soul-less and as it stands, it made me laugh. I had a great time with this movie and honestly wouldn’t mind owning it on Blu-Ray and make it a modern Christmas classic to watch around Christmas. It’s no classic up there with A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) or IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), or even to oddball classics like NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) and DIE HARD (1988), but it’s still a cute enough movie to watch when the kids are sleep and the parents wanting to let off a little steam. Highly recommended, y’all.
My honest rating for A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS: 4/5